An external view of the Met Office building at night.

Nigel Roberts

Areas of expertise

  • High-resolution numerical modelling

  • Forecast verification

  • Mesoscale meteorology and weather analysis
  • Ensemble forecasting and probabilistic post-processing

Current activities

Nigel coordinates the Convective-scale Ensembles Project. The aim is to assess the potential value of a high-resolution model ensemble.

The recently-introduced 1.5-km model for the UK is providing more realistic forecasts of local weather than was ever possible before. The problem is that the detail can be deceptive and needs careful interpretation because there will always be uncertainty - particularly for the 'extreme' weather that is of most concern.

The focus of Nigel's work is to address this issue by running an 'ensemble' of different but plausible 1.5-km model forecasts for a number of significant past cases (flash floods, snow, fog) to examine whether it is possible to quantify the uncertainty and use this information to develop methods for conveying useful probabilistic forecasts of hazardous weather.

This work will involve the testing of new methods for selecting the most appropriate forecasts to run in the ensemble. There is also a need to make use of new measures for evaluating the performance of a high-resolution ensemble. In addition, Nigel is concerned with improving the physical understanding of the nature of the predictability of our weather.

Nigel collaborates with academics at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading on high-resolution ensemble research and in other areas connected to high-resolution modelling.

Nigel is also working on a project to introduce and showcase new ways of presenting information from the 1.5-km model.

Career background

Nigel achieved a degree in Physics and Meteorology at the University of Reading in 1988; then, after working for a private-sector forecasting company, joined the Met Office in 1989. He started in the stratospheric group, and worked on the quality control of satellite observations, before moving to the Joint Centre for Mesoscale Meteorology. He then spent several years studying mid-latitude cyclones, fronts and thunderstorms and took part in the Fronts and Atlantic Storm Tracks Experiment (FASTEX) - an observational study of frontal cyclones. In 1998 the emphasis of Nigel's work changed to high-resolution numerical modelling and the development of the new 4-km and 1.5-km versions of the Met Office model. Nigel gained expertise in the modelling of convective storms, the hydrological impact of rainfall, the behaviour and interpretation of high-resolution models. Nigel developed new forecast verification measures and took part in the Convective Storm Initiation Project (CSIP) - an observational study of thunderstorm initiation.

External Recognitions:

  • Nigel is an Expert Team member in verification within the European collaboration in Short Range Numerical Weather Prediction (SRNWP)
  • Nigel is invited to talk about his research at scientific conferences and workshops 
  • Nigel is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society